We have a useful guide to the underlying idiocy of this complaint here near the opening:
On one day in May the country registered 4,529 deaths—the highest single-day total ever recorded anywhere on earth in a single day.
That is, of course, entire nonsense. The average number of deaths in India in a day is around 27,000. What they mean is the number of covid deaths. But if you’re going to get confused between covid deaths and deaths then the rest of your thinking is unlikely to be all that useful, is it?
In India’s Covid Crisis, Echoes of a Colonial Past
Quite, we knew the British were going to get blamed at some point, for something.
This is not the first time that the Kumbh mela turned into a hotbed for an epidemic. Throughout the 19th century several cholera epidemics in India could be traced to this pilgrimage. The earliest record of an outbreak at the Kumbh is from 1817. The 1865 cholera pandemic that came to Europe via Mecca was believed to have originated at Haridwar. At the International Sanitary Conference organized the following year to help address the scourge of ‘King cholera’ as it was often called, pilgrimages at Haridwar were deemed “the most powerful of all the causes that tend to the development and propagation of the epidemics of the disease.” Cholera broke out at all subsequent Kumbhs melas at Haridwar during the 19th century, with the exception of the one in 1891. So strongly were Kumbh Melas implicated that a leading London medical paper and the Surgeon General of the United States misattributed the origins of the global cholera pandemic of 1892 to the pilgrimage.
Colonial administrators were fully aware of the immense toll that epidemic outbreaks at Kumbh melas took on the people of India and beyond. Colonial public health records are replete with officials’ palpable anxieties in the build-up to each pilgrimage. Each time they contemplated the possibility of banning the Kumbh mela; and each time the political imperative to avoid a prospective popular uprising took precedence. Public health was sacrificed in the interest of political expediency. And over the course of British rule in India countless Indians lost their lives to cholera epidemics at pilgrimage sites. One may say, those were colonial times—a different era when the lives of colonial subjects did not figure beyond a point in political decisions.
The Brits allowed pilgrimages – pilgrimages vitally important to the local religion, as shown by the millions upon millions who took part in them – to take place and this is evidence of the heartless indifference of the colonial overlords?
Tough crowd, eh? And presumably the Mughals and so on going back into history who allowed exactly the same things were also – ah, no, don’t be silly, they weren’t British, were they, they were other paler skinned empirific overlords.
Anna Khalid is an associate professor in history at Carleton College and the former John Stuart MIll Faculty Fellow at Heterodox Academy.
Isn’t academia interesting these days when this writer held a position named after Mill?